Gender


I want to start collecting pictures of people telling me why they need Feminism in Arabic… if you want to participate then just write out this sentence and complete it and take a picuture and email it to me (shalabieh [@] gmail.com) or post it to the blog here 🙂

_______أحتاج النسوية

If you don’t know what I am talking about take a look at the previous post Who needs Feminism? 

 

 

 

I came across this post today (http://feministsindia.com/who-needs-feminism/) and I would love to do an Arabic version.
Here is the video from the post, anyone in? 

A friend of mine recently hosted a round table about the hurtful words we never really think about. Unfortunately I couldn’t be there, so I contributed by email. She asked me about the words “Ya Binit” and how they can be harmful. I started to write and my response to her was short and quick, and I wasnt satisfied with it. The ideas kept swirling in my head and the anger was there boiling and bubbling needing to come out.

 

I am not a binit – A little girl devoid of maturity, experience, or sexuality. I am in my mid thirties, and for you to reduce me to a little girl with those two words is not acceptable. I don’t care if you are afraid of me and my body. You can not reduce me to a hymen, an elastic membrane (that sometimes doesn’t even exist). An elastic membrane that you think you can use to control me. I am not a binit because it nullifies all the hard work and the years I have put into fighting your oppression. Fighting for my place in schools, fighting for my place in the work force, fighting for my place in the street. Fighting to be recognized, and yet you still, and very flippantly, call me a girl.

 

I am not a binit- not after all the years I have been working, building a long career filled with successes and failures. I am not a binit- not after paying my own rent with my own hard earned money. I pay my own bills, I buy my own clothes, I paint my own walls and a little binit doesn’t do that. I am not a binit simply because you cant deal with my liberation and independence!

 

I am a woman, and your misogynist question “Anesah will Madam?”- is your polite way of asking me if I am a virgin or not; If I am legitimized by yet another man and his hegemony over my sexuality. If I am sanctioned by marriage or under the auspices of a father or brother or some other familial male figure. Your question renders me useless. It invalidates me. It perpetuates your oppression, sanctioned by state, society and family. It basically asks me who is the man that controls you, as if I have no control over my own destiny. Ya Binit reduces me and my value to what is, or isn’t, between my legs. Well here is a news flash, what is or isnt between my legs is none of your business.

 

I am not a binit and your questions of “anseh will madam?” will not be answered. I am a woman and I will not be reduced to a child tethered by a hymened leash that exists in your head.

 

This week I went to see the film everyone is talking about “Where Do We Go Now?” By Nadine Labaki. I was really excited and expected a good show. And a good show it was. It made me laugh, it made me cry and it made me upset! The story is one that if it doesn’t preoccupy every Lebanese person I met, it at least affects them in some way or form in their everyday life. That isn’t what upset me, my issue with the story is it’s reinforcement of some of the most ugly gender stereotypes. Stop here if you don’t want any spoilers.

 

The film depicts the village women as the gate keepers of peace, the ones that are conniving, calculating and  manipulative. It doesn’t matter that they are portrayed as such for a good reason. It matters that they are portrayed

Where do we go now Poster

Where do we go now Poster

as such. In the film they are seen more than once sitting together plotting and planning. And who do they manipulate? Who do they conspire against? The buffoons, the stupid, war mongering, blood lusting men. The men can’t who can’t think for themselves, are driven by machismo and testosterone to fight like this is the only solution. The men don’t think to question the news, they don’t think to talk about what

is happening. Instead they plot little attacks or pranks in the church or the

mosque that later escalate into standoffs, as if that is the only way the men can express themselves and their affiliation with their sect/ religion. They only time the men are shown to co

me together and talk is when they are planning attacks and strategizing about where to keep their weapons. And to add insult to injury, when the women’s tactics don’t work they bring in skinny, blonde, half-naked women to distract the men, thus appealing to their basest instincts, the distraction is bought to it pinnacle with the women drugging the men and making the skinny blonds dance for them as they hide all the arms.

 

These portrayals were done with such craftsmanship and artistry that you leave the film with a feeling of satisfaction that can easily makes you forget these stereotypes and the problems they present. I also feel (and I could be completely off base) that since sectarianism in Lebanon is at the heart of the film that these issues will be overlooked and take a backseat in the discussions around it. If I am wrong, and there are discussions about the gendered presentations within the film, please link me to the critiques and discussions or alternatively, start one in the comments section below.  I am disturbed by this representation and how it reduces both men and women to these ugly vignettes. I think that characters and the story could’ve been built without both lumping women and men into one of two camps, the complexities of the situation could’ve crossed the gender line and ultimately presented a more interesting, and maybe even a more realistic story.